Posted: 2:50 pm Thursday, February 6th, 2014

This year’s best story from National Signing Day 

By Michael Carvell

DT Elisha Shaw of Tucker High School (AJC)

DT Elisha Shaw of Tucker High School (AJC)

A year ago today, Tucker’s Elisha Shaw imagined how glorious Wednesday’s signing day might be.

One of the nation’s top prospects as a defensive tackle then had his world turned upside down in a preseason scrimmage.

A neck injury sustained while making a tackle left him not only unable to play his senior season but unable to ever play the game again, doctors told him.

But Shaw still had a big signing day moment thanks to coach Nick Saban and Alabama.

It will always be a day that the 6-foot-4, 310-pound senior will never forget.

He committed to Alabama at a news conference along with his Tucker teammates. But he won’t count toward the recruiting class; the Crimson Tide offered to put him on medical scholarship as a student coach or trainer so he can still get a college education.

“It’s great,” Shaw told the AJC on Thursday afternoon. “Everything is coming out as planned. Well, not as planned. Everything is coming is good, definitely much better than I thought.”

Said Tucker coach Bryan Lamar, “Once we found out what was going on with his injury, I contacted Alabama and let them know about it. Again, he still has to do schoolwork. But as long as he qualifies, they are going to take care of him.”

Last summer, Shaw listed Alabama, UGA and Ole Miss as his leaders but had not committed anywhere when he got the grim medical diagnosis. His coach approached Alabama assistants Kirby Smart and Chris Rumph (now at Texas) about a medical scholarship.

“We didn’t talk to anybody else about this,” Lamar said. “I didn’t set it up like that. What happened when he was injured, and we found out the possibility that he might not play, I asked him where did he want to go. He wanted to go the University of Alabama. He had talked to them about being a silent commitment. He said he wanted to go to Alabama, so I said let me talk to them about it and see if they would take care of him. And it worked out.”

Shaw’s coach praised Alabama for the act of goodwill. Tucker’s roster has more than a dozen players with major-college scholarship offers, and junior defensive tackle Jonathan Ledbetter committed to Alabama a couple of weeks ago.

“It is outstanding,” Lamar said. “It says a lot about Alabama. He is a kid they really wanted and unfortunately he got injured. But they are going to take care of the kid. That’s a blessing in itself.”

Shaw originally planned to commit to Alabama on NBC-TV during last month’s Army Bowl All-star game but he wasn’t ready. The pain ran too deep.

“I held off because I didn’t want to tell everybody my story yet,” Shaw said. “I was going to do it on TV and then I talked to my recruiting coach at Alabama.

“He said if I’m going to commit to Alabama, I had to tell everybody the full story because they’re recruiting other d-tackles and it might scare them off unless they hear my full story. I really didn’t want to do that because I was trying to get over it.”

2015 Tucker DL Jonathan Ledbetter (right) committed to Alabama on the same weekend as Elisha Shaw's official visit

2015 Tucker DL Jonathan Ledbetter (right) committed to Alabama on the same weekend as Elisha Shaw’s official visit

There was no way to keep the news from leaking out on Wednesday when the media showed up to see Shaw and 15 his teammates reveal their college choices at a Tucker signing ceremony. Rumors also began appearing on message boards and Shaw was ready to tell the full story to the AJC on Thursday afternoon.

“The reality is nobody can play football forever,” Lamar said. “It’s not easiest thing for Elisha to never be able to play again. He went out to the Army Bowl and it was tough for him not being able to play, and watching the guys practice.

“The thing about his injury, he feels great. He’s not in a situation to where has an injury where he feels uncomfortable. It makes it easier where you can’t move as well. Right now, he doesn’t have any pain. It’s just a situation where he has instability with his neck. It’s not a pain thing, but it’s where he takes a wrong shot it could be pretty bad.”

“I still feel like I can play, and I have a game next week,” Shaw said.

If Shaw can meet NCAA requirements, he will enroll at Alabama next year. He is considering a career as a football coach. Despite not being able to play at Tucker last season, Shaw attended practices and games as a regular member of the team which advanced to the Class AAAAA state championship game.

“We’ve talked about this in depth, about the whole situation,” Lamar said. “We talked to him about different opportunities. He will get to be around the Alabama program, and he will get to learn. He will be able to get in there and learn. There’s not a better place to learn than under Coach Saban, with how they set their program up.”

“When I couldn’t play this season, I got into coaching and started liking it,” Shaw said. “I’m going to study to be a coach at Alabama. I love the game, and I know it well. If I can’t paly football, I still want to be around it.”

It was a heart-warming gesture by Alabama, which caused some hard feelings in the Atlanta community a couple of years ago by asking North Atlanta High School’s Justin Taylor to take a grayshirt offer shortly before signing day after suffering a knee injury. Taylor had been committed to Alabama for year, and ended up switching to Kentucky rather than delay his enrollment with the Crimson Tide.

The Wall Street Journal also accused Alabama of medical scholarships to “gain a competitive edge by encouraging some underperforming players to quit the team for medical reasons” in an 2010 article.

For Shaw, this appears to be another of several obstacles he has overcome in the last couple of years. He was academically ineligible to play as a Tucker sophomore but worked hard in the classroom to get back on the field the next year. At the end of his junior season, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss all of last spring’s workouts. Shaw had finally returned to full health when he suffered the career-ending neck injury.

“I appreciate everything that my coach (Lamar) and Alabama has done for me,” Shaw said. “I’ve been loyal to Alabama, and they’ve always been loyal to me.”

Shaw and his family took an official visit to Alabama two weeks ago to meet with Saban and discuss the medical scholarship. He and his coach are in the process of filling out paperwork to submit to the SEC.

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81 comments
walkermydog
walkermydog

not to rain on your feel good carvell, but check out all the articles about the two kids from TEXAS/TEXAS A&M!!!!!!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Those players they get so called "processed" by Nick Saban actually "Process" themselves. Alvin Kamara and LaMichael Fanning this year. Bama has one player that will go medical. A couple that will not return for their 5th year that will graduate in May. Roll Tide

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

http://recruiting.blog.ajc.com/2014/02/04/uga-and-longtime-commit-part-ways/

funny that ppl want to act like saban is the only one who considers his recruiting class' numbers but UGA wasnt willing to lose a spot for this kid even if he was able to academically qualify in time (by taking summer classes, etc)...so see, its all part of coaching and recruiting....please stop acting like saban is the devil and cmr is some saint...they are BOTH smart coaches who put the team and current players first, as they should,its what they get paid for...

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

not too mention, according to Elisha and his family the ONLY school who stood by him after his injury was BAMA....so while yall think that BAMA was forced into doing this, we could have left him behind like everyone else (including UGA) did...

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

to those ppl who tweeted that bama could only sign 18 or 19 please show us where you have proof of that?? bama doesnt release its scholarship numbers to the public so you are pulling a number out of ur butt to try to take away from the fact that Elisha worked hard to get into college and will be able to attend bc BAMA and Saban wanted to take care of him...Alvin Kamara wasn't cut, he left, after being suspended twice for rules violations and for spending the weekend before the Sugar Bowl at Opera night club (a 21 and up place) with Johnny Manziel....as far as Justin Taylor goes, he was redshirted at Kentucky and you know when he actually saw the field?? the next season, he would have been participating with BAMA a full semester earlier than he ended up doing at Kentucky...ask Bradley Bozeman the benefits of a Greyshirt...he took one and his reasoning was "im not healthy enough to help my team so why take a roster spot when we can recruit someone who can help my team win"...he got an academic scholly for those semesters and then was offered his full ride football scholly the following january....all the hatred for BAMA and Saban is unreal when this story is about the love for the game by a player who was sidelined with a horrible injury and the hard work of his high school coach and the staff at BAMA to make sure that his dreams to coach can be achieved...unless YOU personally were treated like crap by BAMA or cut by Saban your "facts" and "stories" are simply speculation...please show me a story from a player who has come out and said they were cut for no reason by BAMA...

Coach7
Coach7

Mr. Carvell this is the BEST article you have written for the JC. This is was a commitment is from both parties. A job well done sir! 

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

They don't forget - they don't agree. Bid difference.

bulldawg14
bulldawg14

Good for Shaw, but my gosh, let's please stop with the ignorance. This was nothing but a PR stunt by Saban. One isolated incident of "kindness" does not magically erase all of the situations where he screwed recruits over. Where was this "class" when Justin Taylor messed his knee up a couple of years ago? Not to mention that he has once again oversigned this year, and he's going to have to dash quite a few other kids' dreams in the very near future. Make no mistake, this is an out-of-character move by a guy that, when it comes down to it, does not have much character to begin with. Some people are so quick to forget, it's almost comical.

mike69
mike69

PEOPLE DON'T LIKE SABAN BASICLY CAUSE HE WINS. THEY NEVER SEE HIS INTERVIEWS OR SEE THEWHAT HE IS ALL ABOUT. HE'S AS BIG AS A CLASS ACT AS ANY COACH OUT THERE. THIS SHOWS IT HERE. YOU MIGHT NOT AGREE WITH ME BUT THERE IS ONETHING. DO YOU KNOW HIM PERSONALLY? IF NOT DON'T SAY NOTHING NEGIIVE ABOUT HIM OR ANYBODY ELSE.

WDE
WDE

Hat's off to Coach Saban and the entire Alabama program well done, well done indeed!

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

This is not the first time Saban has done this. When Robert Quinn came out of Ft. Dorchester he to was unsure if he would play again. Saban planned to honor his schooly too. Now circumstances changed and Quinn went on to UNC and now is a All Pro, but hats off to Saban. May despise him and the program, but you have to pay respect when it is due.

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

FWIW, Alabama signed a kid last year who was also a medical from the get-go.


I don't hear former Alabama players complaining about their experience. I do know that Georgia had a roster short more than 15 scholarship players recently, a self-imposed sanction worse than anything the NCAA handed out to USC or UNC. Somehow all this becomes Evil Saban and Saint Richt.

DrPhill
DrPhill

What is Nick going to do for the seven scholarship players he is going to cut?

FrankFraticelli
FrankFraticelli

Bottom line is the kid is going to get an education. Who cares if there are any ulterior motives involved - that's not his concern. It's a decent act by Alabama regardless. Having said all of that, the reason it got the press is because it stands in direct contrast to the press Alabama usually gets about how they handle their kids. In a way it exposes the fact that this is a singular good act by Alabama as opposed to the many others you have read about which have been less noble. Bottom line is the kid wins and if Alabama gets a little atta boy, so what. What I am proud to say is that acts of generosity and true caring are common for Coach Richt and as such generally do not get much press.

RandyHall
RandyHall

Another smart and good move by Alabama.....keeping ties with Tucker....not exclusive UGA....also, a good move to help bring Ledbetter to AL.....a familiar face for him...UGA going after the 175-190 lb players while AL is going after the 275-300 lb players....CMR does not have a lot of emphasis on the line of scrimmage....watch UGA's OL over the next years....a demise for the Offense!!!   

Blackoutanyone
Blackoutanyone

MC... there is hope for you yet.  


To the two half-wits just below this post....  you two haters need to get a life.  Rev. Richt pulled this young man's scholarship offer because he was injured.  Spin as you will.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

You can say what you want to but Alabama was backed into a corner. Shaw had no plans of committing to anyone but Alabama so they decided to get as much PR out of it as they could by bring him in and giving him a free education by training him to be a Coach. Shaw wins because he gets a free education under the greatest Coach of this generation and Alabama win because of much needed PR after resent disasters not to mention a grateful Tucker High School who will think of Alabama first with future Recruits. I bet Richt would have agreed to the same deal if the Tucker Coach had contacted him but he didn't. 

Who knows Shaw may be able to play in a few years with all the Medical advances being made. Jarvis Jones wasn't suppose to be able to ever play again either. Good lick to him in the future. 

charlestonian77
charlestonian77

while i am happy as all get out for this young man lets get real for a second.  this is NOT the recruiting story of the year if it is anybody other than bama.

all schools do things like this some more (hint) than others.  for instance gt has had a number of players who stayed injured for their entire career. they dont get moved along because the next signing class has 8 players over the 85 limit.

we were  one of the few schools who kept the scholarship on the table when myles autry was severely injured last year.  osu his dream school pulled the offer. so did fsu and just about everybody but gt.  that is the way it should be rather than "the feel good story of the year".  LMAO.

this was nothing more than a op ed for nick saban to point to when he is accused of doing what he always does.  they dont have rules named after you for no reason. eh nick?

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Good luck to Elisha Shaw - tough to have your football career taken away before it has even started.   I hope he gets the degree and gets into coaching,  Bill Belichick never played D I and he seems to have done OK.  Same with George O'Leary

Dawg-Gawn
Dawg-Gawn

Best of luck to Elisha Shaw with Nick Saban and Alabama I hope this plan will become fruition... If Shaw fails to qualify at Alabama then Saban should place him in a prep school or JUCO allowing Elisha more time to get his life in order... and whatever happened to last year's Alabama commit Darius Paige who also was medically unable to qualify at Bama?

Those of us who believe in the Spirit of God should pray in earnest that this young man...  Elisha Shaw be healed so he might be able to live out his dream... three year's ago, I was told by two Neurologist that I would probably never be able to walk or talk again... with tears in my eyes I looked up with faith to God... long story short... within 12 hours of listening to the doctors telling me... I was just lucky to be alive... I walked out of that hospital laughing and talking with my family...

Thank you Michael Carvell for this article and all the other recruiting news that has happened so fast over the past few days... I enjoyed them immensely...

God's best to Elisha Shaw... I'm praying for ya... even if you are a Gump!

"BELIEVE" in the G

MichaelCarvell
MichaelCarvell moderator

@walkermydog  There's a difference. The Texas A&M kid was committed when he suffered the injury; Elisha Shaw was not

ARdawg
ARdawg

@BAMABABE Understandably one doesn't find much decorum in the typical Alabama trailer park but please, you are on a Georgia blog. At least act like you have some

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@BAMABABE  

Carvell does a good job   being impartial in his reporting and what he said about Shaw was correct. Shaw had Saban backed in a corner since Alabama was his only serious consideration before the injury. But, you can bet one thing , Richt would have been his next contact if Saban had turned him down and Saban knows it. Saban couldn't let his hard work Recruiting  at Tucker High School be lost because you CAN bet that  Richt would have let him come to Georgia if nothing else but to get the publicity. Any Coach that saves some Scholarships for walk - on's would have never turned him down. But, what is the problem? Shaw got his Scholarship , is going to his first choice school and Saban picked up some  needed PR. Everyone that mattered won here.  

MichaelCarvell
MichaelCarvell moderator

@BAMABABE  That's false. Where did you get that information from? If you read the story above, Shaw and his coach said that Alabama was where Shaw really wanted to go and it was the only school they approached with the idea.

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@bulldawg14 Justin was asked to greyshirt...ANY school would have done the same but bc Ky didnt have a full recruiting class they didnt....he took a redshirt instead and STILL didnt start till the following year...

The_Real_KJ
The_Real_KJ

@bulldawg14  Yup.  Let's see Nicky do this with a recruit that DOES count against his scholarship limit before we start with the ballwashing.

TampaD
TampaD

@mike69  You're not really serious are you?  About the class act part?  GREAT COACH WITHOUT QUESTION. But a class act, that's just silly.  Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and many, many others would HIGHLY disagree and considering the dozens and dozens that I am speaking of have played for him, they probably know a little better.

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@DrPhill please enlighten us all on how you came up with that number?? do you have the printout of scholly numbers that bama send the ncaa?

WDE
WDE

@RandyHall a demise for the offense??...and yet we continue to set UGA scoring records...hmmmm

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@Blackoutanyone  

CNS has accomplished his intended goal!

Those same parents won't read the WSJ when they hi-light the 9 current players that will get cut before Aug.1 in order to get down under 85 schollies.

Unlike past year's roster reductions, the 9 or so guys fro m this year's cuts won't have a chance to graduate from Bama.

Lambert Dawg
Lambert Dawg

@Blackoutanyone Why do you have to bring "Rev. Richt" into this? Why can't you be just be proud of Alabama for doing the right thing and making a difference in this kids life.


Mark Richt has a history of standing by players who commit to UGA.


You are no different than the two posters below you refer to below.

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@Dawg-Gawn darius is still at BAMA...if u look at his twitter page its got pics of him and players and wishing ppl ROLL TIDE and pics of him in BAMA gear....just bc he cant play doesnt mean he was thrown out of Tuscaloosa....contrary to what UGA fans want to believe

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@ARdawg @BAMABABElol...first of all im born and raised in east cobb county. i happen to be a bama student and family...im FAR from trailer park, im going to assume you're neighbors with Honey Boo Boo so calling someone names is all you have...and if the AJC wants to keep writing about BAMA and all the UGA fans want to keep talking about us like we're yalls rivals, i'll keep commenting....

BrownDog
BrownDog

@ARdawg @BAMABABE  


Ardawg, A georgia blog dominated once again by stories about Alabama. Don't bother turning off the lights when you leave. 

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@C-Kirk @BAMABABEmy comment was more towards the UGA fans commenting on here than it was towards the writer of the article. Everyone outside of BAMA wants to believe that Saban will pull an offer from a kid without blinking but when he honors one and helps a kid attend the school he wants to its only because he's "backed into a corner"..so which is it?? is he a heartless coach who doesnt care about his players or did he do the right thing bc a good kid who deserved it was able to get the help the school and team could provide?

bulldawg14
bulldawg14

@BAMABABE That recruiting class was not full when Justin committed. I remember reading an article that said Taylor was like the 7th recruit to commit to Bama for that particular class, so it's not like he was a late commit that they couldn't find room for. He had already been committed to them for a fairly long time.Basically, Bama told the kid that because he blew his knee out, he couldn't come to Bama for a free (and once-promised) education that year and that he would pretty much have to put his life on hold for an entire year before he could enroll. Just for the sake of comparison, UGA HAS had this same situation pop up multiple times in recent memory with recruits suffering severe injuries before they enroll... guess how UGA has historically handled those situations? They honor the scholarship THAT YEAR, let the kid enroll as planned AT THEIR SCHOOL so he can start working towards his degree, and medically redshirt him if they have to. 


The only times UGA has been associated with this grey shirting phenomenon are situations where the kid failed to meet academic requirements to get into the school, and unlike a catastrophic injury, those are situations the STUDENT-athletes can prevent and ultimately take responsibility for.

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@TampaD @mike69so what exactly has Tyren said?? i have a good friend who knows his family personally and they are all happy with him being there...Alvin was suspended twice and spent the weekend of the sugar bowl at Opera nightclub in ATL (a 21 and up place) partying with Johnny Football...he had nothing but good things to say about his coaches and team even after deciding to leave...so where are the other dozens of players who have something bad to say about him...the only 2 are the dolphins player who waited 7 years to bring up a story that no1 else on his team has backed and a guy that transferred  to Tennessee who said that saban didn't show him enough attention...other than that the guys who have transferred out or graduated havent come out with anything liek you're trying to portray...ive personally spoken with many past players and they all say that saban is a hard coach to play for bc he wants the best out of you but that he made them better men bc of it and that he's actually quite funny and a father figure to them...

Dawg-Gawn
Dawg-Gawn

@BAMABABE @Dawg-Gawn

I did as you asked... followed Darius' twitter for 5 months... only two photo's of Paige in a Bama hoodie... 0 Roll Tide chants.. 2 times Alabama mentioned not sure state of or University of... tweets with Kamara, Clinton-Hix and some Florida Gator relative... seem like a really cool kid with a good head on his shoulders...

"BELIEVE" in the G

BAMABABE
BAMABABE

@bulldawg14 @BAMABABEgoogle Bradley Bozeman...he had the same situation happen as Justin...he was injured and asked to take a GS and his answer and thoughts behind the idea are really enlightening...Bradley got an academic scholly till jan and was an early enrollee, he said he didnt want to take a scholarship away from a guy who could actually come in right away and help his team to win...Justin didnt want to GS and thats fine, but he went to Ky and redshirted and still didnt play his first season...he would have actually been able to start workouts earlier had he gone to BAMA bc he would have been an early enrollee the next Jan as opposed to taking a full year as a redshirt...